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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

SAME: Microelectronics in the South of France

May 3rd, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

The Sophia Antipolis Microelectronics Forum takes place every fall in the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Southern France, Sophia Antipolis, 5 miles inland from the beautiful Mediterranean city of Antibes.

Sophia Antipolis is about 20 minutes from the International Airport at Nice, with offices for approximately 800 high-tech companies – included among them: ARM, Broadcom, Cadence, HP, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Nvidia, STMicro, and Synopsys – housed in a range of buildings set among the rolling hills of the enclave. Within that forested place and 800 enterprises, almost 40,000 people are employeed. There are also two college campuses in Sophia Antipolis, as well as restaurants, a golf course, multiple hotels, and a tennis institute.

In other words, if you’ve never been to the Cote d’Azur, never been to Nice or Antibes, if you think you’d love vistas across the wide blue Mediterranean Sea, want to learn more about good food, wine, Picasso, Matisse, ancient Greeks, the French Riviera, or microelectronics – and not necessarily in that order – you’re going to be wanting to go to the Sophia Antipolis Microelectronics Forum taking place this year on October 2nd & 3rd.

I’ve attended SAME three times, and each time have come away with a better understanding of not just how high-tech fits into the scheme of things in France, but also a much deeper understanding of various topics within microelectronics including mobile-device technology, smart cards – a particular core competency in Sophia Antipolis – research into the human-machine interface, and more qualitatively, the complex interplay between innovation, investment, intellectual motivation, and the needs of a nation state.

Going to SAME is like attending a short course on life in the fast lane, if the fast lane is defined as everything having to do with the technology sector when the people participating in that sector don’t necessarily believe that Silicon Valley is the center of the world.

Having said that, a lot of people who work in Sophia Antipolis, and live in the area, are wildly familiar with the ambiance of Silicon Valley. A lot of them have lived and worked previously in the San Francisco Bay Area, and even more of them visit Silicon Valley regularly because:  a) their company has offices in Silicon Valley, or b) they have customers in Silicon Valley, or c) they’re partnering with a company in Silicon Valley to pursue some tech initiative.

Nonetheless, Sophia Antipolis is in the South of France, it’s not in the South of the Bay Area, so the food, wine, weather, language, and general sensibilities are French, not Northern Californian, and hence a trip to Sophie is well worth the time.

If you want to know more about my first two visits to Sophia Antipolis, you can read my 2009 trip report here, and my 2010 trip report here.

The 2010 trip was particularly interesting because part of the conference was spent visiting the STMicroelectronics fab set at the foot of Mt. Sainte-Victoire, about halfway between Antibes and Marseilles. In which case, there was intense learning to be had about European chip manufacturing, with the icing on the cake for Art History enthusiasts seeing the stomping grounds of the Grand Master of post-Impressionism, Paul Cezanne.

So what are you waiting for?

SAME 2012 is accepting paper submissions right now, with topics including analog and RF, multiprocessing hardware/software, 3DICs, TSVs and wide I/O, and wireless data demand. So plan to present, or plan to exhibit, or simply plan to attend SAME 2012. October 2nd and 3rd are after the summer travel season, the airfares are not prohibitive, the weather in Southern France in the fall is spectacular, and the ambience is magical.

You may be able to cite other business travel destinations that are as beautiful, interesting, or productive from a business standpoint as Sophia Antipolis, but you will not be able to cite destinations any more beautiful, interesting or informative.

Bon voyage!



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One Response to “SAME: Microelectronics in the South of France”

  1. Gary Dare (@GaryDare) says:

    Hi, Peggy! We were introduced at DAC 49 a couple of months ago and hopefully you can see what we do at SAME in a couple of weeks. At Space Codesign, we offer an ESL hardware-software codesign tool that may interest you, based on a tweet from the 2009 SAME! We will be participating in all three aspects of SAME – the startup panel, the technical conference and the exhibition, so we hope to get a chance to chat!

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